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Does Canada have a Science Culture?

Conference Day: 
Day 2 - November 2nd 2017

Organized by: Kirsten Vanstone, Royal Canadian Institute for Science and Reinhart Reithmeier, Professor, University of Toronto

Speakers: Chantal Barriault, Director, Science Communication Graduate Program, Laurentian University and Science North; Maurice Bitran, CEO, Ontario Science Centre; Kelly Bronson, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ottawa; Marc LePage, President and CEO, Genome Canada

Moderator: Ivan Semeniuk, Science Reporter, The Globe and Mail

Takeaways and recommendations: 
  • Canadians are engaged and informed about science, and have positive attitudes relative to citizens in other countries.

  • Many Canadians struggle to explain fundamental scientific concepts.

  • Science centres in Canada can be leveraged to communicate on a set of scientific areas, creating a cohesive picture of specific scientific areas and capitalizing on public trust in researchers, science centres, and educational institutions.

  • The precious commodity is no longer knowledge, but the ability to sort through information and the passion to follow a certain route.

  • Methodological diversity, leading to conflicting expert opinions, may undermine the role of science in a policy matter.

  • Uncertainties inherent in scientific results may lead the public to lose trust.

  • The public has an important role in asking tough questions of scientists.

  • Decision-making within institutions should bring the public into discussions early on, especially about public-funded innovations or technologies.

  • Canada’s science culture is strengthened by the graduate training of scientists, empowering them to act as members of the public.

  • The role of science in people’s lives and the construction of their beliefs and values are influenced increasingly by social media and their social and cultural identity.

  • A research gap exists in science media, on what’s covered and how it compares to other countries.

  • There is a gap in media coverage of Canadian science. Who will cover Canadian science and in an independent way?